For the Year
Man's sinful nature is so deeply corrupt that he knows not the necessity of a fit covering for his guilt. As Adam did in the garden of Eden, man attempts to produce his own covering for sin rather than be honest before God and confess himself to be in need of a substitute. By nature, a sinner will weave what he thinks is a suitable coat to cover his spiritual nakedness. Man thinks that any form of effort will be respected by the Lord God. No amount of work, effort, or strivings on the part of fallen man will ever produce a right standing before the eye of Him who beholds all things. The just God and Savior alone must make and impute the coat of righteousness that covers the nakedness of His people. As God shed the blood of an animal in the garden of Eden, using the skin of the slain animal to produce a covering for Adam and Eve, Christ lay down His life for the sheep. He, as the sin bearer of all those given to Him by eternal covenant, became guilty before the law of God. He, as the sin offering for all those chosen unto salvation from the foundation of the world, took the wrath of God in their place. The perfect substitute became sin that we (the elect of God) might be made the righteousness of God in Him. As our sin was imputed to Him, His righteousness was imputed to those that the Father purposed for Christ to redeem. The Lord God of heaven took the righteousness of the obedient God-man, and clothed every sinner that he came to save. With the coat of Christ's righteousness upon a redeemed sinner, there is now no spiritual nakedness before the eye of Him who has loved us with an everlasting love.
WHAT GOOD THING SHALL I DO?
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? Matt. 19:16
The natural mind thinks that there are some good things that can be done by the carnal heart. If one sits (the natural mind thinks) under some type of preaching, surely there will be (eventually) some good fruit produced. This thinking reveals nothing more than the wicked pride within man. The Lord Jesus told a rich young ruler that there is none good but God. Only the work of God Almighty is truly good. If there be any love toward Christ, any love or graciousness toward a believer, or any other good work, it is the work of the Holy Ghost working within His people. It is Christ working in you to will and do of His good pleasure. The people of God are saved unto good works, but may we be taught by the Spirit of God that we have nothing to boast in but Christ and His work only.
A PERSONAL LETTER
A close family member has been agonizing over the last few months over which church that she and her husband should attend. We have corresponded many times about the subject. In her most recent letter she asked the question (paraphrased), "Some people say that when we believe we are saved while others say when we repent from our sins and turn to Christ then we are saved. Which is correct?" While the questions are actually redundant, here is an except from my response to the question.
It is truly good to hear from you all.
About this thing of believing and repenting, I hope that I can give you some help. First, believing is the effect of faith. This faith is not of ourselves (lest we should boast of having done something to merit salvation). Faith is a grace given by God Almighty to all those people that He has chosen unto salvation. When we hear the Gospel of Christ (which is the message of that which God has done for helpless sinners who couldn't help themselves), the Spirit of God (in the timing of God's good pleasure) quickens or makes spiritually alive that person to whom God is going to show mercy. It is not that any person is on a quest to locate or seek out for himself the person of Christ for the Word states that no man seeks after God. What happens is that God (in spite of our sinful and rebellious nature) makes us spiritually alive unto Himself. He grants us the faith to believe the Gospel that He has sent by faithful preachers, and then by His Spirit causes us to repent. Now repentance is not this cheap little prayer that so many would have us believe. Repentance is a turning from our nature to rebel against God to a bent of wanting to hear, love, fellowship, and serve the One who has paid our debt in full. Repentance is the effect of salvation, and not the reason FOR salvation -- just as faith and believing also is not the reason, but the effect of salvation. Salvation is by grace. It is only by grace. There is nothing that we do to merit, instigate, or maintain it. It is God Almighty Who has chosen us, Who calls us, grants us faith to believe, and then by His Spirit guides us in repentance. Any time that someone tells you that you must first do something in order to be saved ... they are telling you something that hinges totally on works. We believe because we're saved or spiritually alive. We repent because He has saved us and has given us a new heart to follow after Him.
Hope this has been a help ...write me back when you can.
THE PROPIATION FOR OUR SINS
And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)
Marvin has for several weeks carried on an email dialog with a close friend concerning the gospel. That person appears to be seeing the very important distinctions between the gospel of freewill and that Gospel which proclaims Christ as the Gospel itself (Who has effectually purchased a salvation for all His sheep, and to Who we owe all praise and honor). Following is the text from Marvin's most recent letter.
It was so good to hear from you today. My heart does rejoice in the consistency
of your speech concerning the glory which alone is due unto the precious Lord
Jesus Christ. It is by Him alone that any sinner is brought to repentance. It
is by His will and purpose that His people are saved.
1:13). Any man left to himself will always run in the opposite direction
rather than seek after God (Psalm
14:2-3). God Almighty (the Father) chose a people that He was going to save
from the foundation of the one to create faith within himself, for faith is
totally belonging to God.
Concerning the verse in 1 John 2:2, John says that "he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, by also for the sins of the whole world". Now John was writing to Jewish believers. He said that Christ "is" the propitiation for "our" sins. That means those Jews for whom Christ is the propitiation, He is the absolute satisfaction before God's holy law. It is not that Christ is trying to be the satisfaction ... He "is" the propitiation. Now if he "is" the propitiation, there is now therefore no condemnation for those for whom He has died (or is the propitiation). To be the propitiation means that everything that would be offensive to God Almighty has been taken by Christ upon Himself, and He took the penalty for it. Someone that has made salvation only possible cannot be the propitiation, because propitiation sets forth the completed act of securing mercy and grace by satisfying all demands. Now John also says that "he is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world". You have to understand that to a Jew, everyone that wasn't a Jew belonged to the "world". John was telling them that there are sheep that are not only Jews, but were from every nation, kindred, and tongue that God has purposed to save. Even though John says "the sins of the whole world", he doesn't mean each and every individual in the whole world. Remember that when we start using words like "propitiation", that word means absolute satisfaction. If John was saying that Christ is the propitiation for each and every person without distinction, then that means that every man's sin has been paid for, or that Christ has satisfied the law of God for all men and women of the world. Now if that be the case, God would be unjust for sending anyone to hell, because Christ was their propitiation. So you see, even though this scripture on the surface appears to insinuate universal atonement or that Christ died for every person to make salvation possible ... it doesn't. When you start saying that He made salvation possible for every man to either accept it or reject it ...you have to say that the bottom line is that man is going to get the glory for making the final decision. This belief is not scriptural, and puts man in the position of being the one that holds the key to eternal salvation.
It is most refreshing to hear a sinner confess his need of the Lord Jesus Christ. Knowing that salvation is only by grace through faith, God's sheep rejoices in that effectual calling by the Holy Spirit.
The religion of this world preaches that salvation is man's response to an offer by God. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Salvation is not walking an aisle, giving the preacher my hand, repeating the sinner's prayer, and then being baptized. Man by nature does not have the freedom of will to do anything. He is dead spiritually and can not respond to anything that is spiritual.
Salvation is a person. Salvation is the Lord Jesus Christ. It is by Him and totally to His glory. Salvation has been from beginning to end, a work of God Almighty. Faith to believe that which God, for Christ's sake, has done is the gift of God. What He has done is secured salvation by satisfying all the demands that the holy law would ever claim against a sinner. Having satisfied the law, a royal righteousness has been charged (imputed) to every sinner that Christ came to save.
The carnal heart will always try to give itself the honor, glory, and praise for accepting the offer when others refused ... but one truly born from above will have this one confession, "Salvation is of the Lord."
Every sermon sent by God Almighty through a preacher will always find as its focus the person of the Lord Jesus. He is the Alpha and Omega of life. He is the answer to all questions, the purpose of all things. Comfort in all trials is found within the message of Christ which proclaims His glory, His work, and His honor. We would never do better for those who hear the Gospel than to preach that Gospel beginning with Moses, and throughout all the prophets, expounding unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Him.
It's amazing to see how often the scriptures speak of good works. One thing is for sure: there is only one who can perform what the Word sets forth as truly a good work, and that one is God Almighty. There is only one who is good and that one is God. It is His work of faith, His work of long-suffering, His work of gentleness, and His work of mercy that has been imparted to His people by the Holy Ghost. These works are manifest within in His people but they are only ours by grace. We as believers have nothing to glory in but the graciousness of our mighty God who does all things for the glory of His Son. We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:10).
Everywhere one looks today, there are signs of religion. There has never been a time in the history of mankind, I'm sure, when the name of Jesus Christ was more popular with the masses. Men find a false sense of security in the using of His blessed name and title, but the mouth of Him who knows all things declares that their heart if far from Him.
True salvation is found where the heart is willingly drawn near to Christ. There
is a willingness to hear Him and be in that place where He manifests himself.
This willingness is the product of Divine intervention for it is the Spirit
of Christ that makes a man willing to draw near to Him.
Men may make great swelling statements about the Lord Jesus, but if these statements are inconsistent with the report that God Almighty has given concerning the Son ...then the heart is far from Him
THE MEASURE OF GRACE
Amazingly wonderful is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. In absoulute wisdom He, as the head, has created ,by His own power, a body for Himself. This Divine creation has not only been heavenly breathed into existence, but is constantly being maintained by Him who is her King. The maintainence of the body has been established by Him through wisely given graces (given to His people). "Unto each of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ" (Eph. 4:7). No man has received all that is necessary for his own spiritual well being. Unto each of the members of the body of Christ is given (according to His wisdom) a measure of grace to minister to the other members of that same body. As our natural body members work in harmony to the good of the whole man, the spiritual members work for the good of the whole body of Christ. No one member of the body of Christ can live as an island. God Almighty has given that wise portion of grace (to each of us) that we might not have occasion for boasting and be lifted up above measure (thereby thinking that we have need of nothing). We are built up together in Him, by Him, and for Him and find all needs supplied by Him through His grace given as He sees fit.
ANSWER IS NO
He who knows the end from the beginning is lovingly concerned with the well being of all those He has chosen unto salvation. Often we find that those things, we have purposed to do, are hindered (forbidden) by Him who has loved us with an everlasting love. We pray about things that we desire to do or have, and fully expect those things to come to past. We feel that our sincere petition will be heeded and answered by Him who has the power to do all that we ask or think in the affirmative ... but that answer may be NO! Paul, the apostle, desired to come and preach the Gospel in Asia but was forbidden of the Holy Ghost. Surely there could be nothing wrong with preaching the Gospel wherever one desired to go?... But the answer was NO. Oh may the One who has bought us with His own blood grant us this day a heart of understanding to bow to His loving providential guidance and to be thankful for those times that we were forbidden to do that which we purposed to do.
PREACHING THE WORD
We assemble ourselves together today not for any vain reason of custom or conscience, but in obedience to Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. It is through the message of Christ and Him crucified that sinners are effectually drawn unto the only hope of their salvation. The promise and faithfulness of God Almighty to bless His word is the reason that all carnal methods of false worship are shunned. May He be honored today and the people of God be blessed through the preaching of the Gospel.
When the Gospel is preached, there is one thing that one will always hear...Christ the Lamb. This is the acid test of a true God centered message. Without a doubt, there are many things that may be preached which in themselves are good. I don't know many folks that are not against drugs, immorality, abortions, or any other such thing, but these things are not the issue. The issue is the glory of Christ -- His work, His holiness, and His satisfaction of the law. When any man stands up to preach, let this test be set upon the words that you hear: "Where's the Lamb?" If I don't hear Him, I haven't heard the only message that the Holy Ghost will bless to the salvation of a sinner.
"PRECIOUS IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD IS THE DEATH OF HIS SAINTS"
It is a precious sight for the Lord to observe the death of His saints. By His glorious might, He shall bring all that He has chosen unto salvation unto Himself. These elect are in a constant state of dying. They die, first of all, to themselves. The myth that they have a freewill that is able to reach out to a begging god and accept an offer of salvation is dead to them. If left to work out their own justification before God, they know that there is nothing but certain death. Christ is the Way, Truth, and Life, and a believer sees himself as nothing but unprofitable.
The saints of God are dead secondly to the world. While they are certainly in the world, the truth of this world being a fading thing is taught them by the Holy Ghost. While they must all live and function in a society that is, by and large, ignorant of the glory of God Almighty, the sheep of Christ put no trust in these things that shall surely perish.
Lastly, the saints of the Lord are precious to Him in physical death. When one of the redeemed draws his last breath, he shall immediately be in the presence of his glorious King. Here shall that saint know as he has been known by the thrice Holy God. All that the Father has chosen, the Son has redeemed, and the Spirit has quickened will be forever with the Lord, and that is precious to Him.
CARETH FOR YOU
1 Peter 5:7
Often we are tempted to keep our troubles to ourselves because we feel that no one really cares to hear about that which burdens us. While we, as insensitive creatures, do treat others with carelessness, there is a Haven of rest, a Refuge of peace, and a Harbor of safety for all that have been made to see Him by faith. He careth for you. What depth and comfort that promise contains. How can One who is unapproachable because of His indescribable holiness care for one who is nothing but dust and ashes, and only deserving of eternal separation? This question finds its answer only in the fact that God Almighty cares for some only as they are found in a Substitute. As the Father loves and cares for the Son, He loves and cares for those that the Son represents. He cares, and that statement must settle the mind of all for whom the Son died. How easily are we brought down with those things that come our way through His mighty providential goodness, but take heart, child of promise, through the apparent gloom of that which seems to be our defeat ... cast all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.
THE TESTIMONY OF A BELIEVER
Many are pleased to make a show of discipleship as long as they are allowed to have a personal testimony which gives them some glory in finally deciding to follow after the Lord. This vain thinking is the basis of most modern religion today. Let a man think that he has given (by his own free will alone) the Lord the privilege to save him, and you find that man to be one whose security is based on a lie. The point at which the carnal heart is truly revealed is when salvation is proclaimed to be totally in the hands of God Almighty. When the Lord Jesus told the crowd that followed Him that no man has the ability to come after Him except it were given unto him of the Father, many of those disciples followed Him no more. Many did leave, but some stayed. They stayed because it had been given from above to believe the report of Christ Jesus. No man is born with a heart that bows to the Sovereign God, but when that man is born from above, he sees the Lord to be The Christ ...The Son of the living God.